The Monopoly jail rules are some of the most confusing, which causes people to get them wrong or argue over which rules are correct.
To clear up any doubts, this article explains the official Monopoly jail rules including when you must go to jail, what happens when you’re in jail, and how to get out.
I’ve also listed some unofficial ‘house rules’ that you can try if you fancy a change the next time you play.
How do players end up in jail in Monopoly?
There are three ways that you might end up in jail in Monopoly. These are:
- You land on the ‘Go To Jail’ space
- You draw a Chance or Community Chest card that instructs you to go to jail
- You roll doubles three times in a row
When you land on the jail space, you are not in jail – you’re ‘just visiting’ and should place your token to the side of the space.
What happens when you go to jail in Monopoly?
When you go to jail you must go directly there. This means moving across the board, not passing Go, and not collecting $200. Your turn ends when you are sent to jail.
If you rolled three doubles to end up in jail, you do not move according to your third roll, but instead, you must go straight to jail.
Can you collect money while in jail in Monopoly?
When you care in jail in Monopoly, you can still collect any rent that you are owed when people land on your properties. You can also still build or sell houses and hotels, buy or mortgage property, participate in auctions and deal with other players.
Read more: What can you still do in Monopoly jail?
How do you get out of jail in Monopoly?
There are three ways to get out of jail in Monopoly:
- Pay a $50 fine
- Use a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card
- Roll doubles
Paying a fine to get out of jail
After you have been sent to jail and everyone else has had a turn, you may choose to pay $50 to get out. After paying, you roll the dice and move your token as normal.
Using a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card
There are two ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards in Monopoly – one Chance and one Community Chest. You may be lucky enough to pick one up and keep it until you need it. Alternatively, you can buy one from another player for a price that you both agree on.
When you use your ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card, you place it to the bottom of the Chance or Community Chest pile, roll the dice, and move your token as normal.
Suggested read: Real Life Get Out of Jail Free Cards: They Do Exist!
Rolling doubles to get out of jail
On your turn, roll the dice. If you roll doubles you are free from jail and can move the number shown on the dice. However, you cannot roll again as you would normally do when rolling doubles.
If you do not roll a double, your turn ends. You have a maximum of three attempts to roll a double.
If you do not roll a double on your third attempt, you must either use a Get Out of Jail Free’ card or pay the $50 fine. You then move the number shown on the dice in your failed attempt to roll doubles.
What if you cannot pay to get out of jail?
If you do not have $50 to get out of jail and do not have a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card, you must raise the funds to get out of jail. You can do this by mortgaging property, selling houses or trading with another player.
If you are unable to raise the money, you are bankrupt and out of the game.
Should you pay to get out of jail or not?
Whether or not it is wise to pay to get out of Monopoly jail or to stay in for as long as possible depends on the stage of the game. Being in jail can be a bad thing or a good thing.
Early in the game, you want to buy as many properties as possible to build your portfolio. At this stage, you should get out of jail as soon as possible, or risk others snapping up the properties that you want to buy.
Later in the game, when most of the properties are owned, moving around the board becomes riskier. This is especially true if the other players have houses and hotels that you may land on.
Staying in jail can be a good way to avoid landing on other players’ properties, while still collecting rent when people land on yours.
However, you cannot stay in jail forever. You must always leave if you roll doubles or after three failed attempts to roll doubles.
8 Fun Alternative Monopoly Jail Rules
There are various ‘house rules’ which people may opt to use when they play Monopoly. Giving some of these a go can be a fun way to spice up your game. You’ll just need to make sure that everyone is aware of the new rules before you start.
1. Short game rule
To make the game of Monopoly quicker, you can make it so that you must leave jail on your first turn. So if you fail to roll doubles, you must then pay the fine or use a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card to leave jail straight away.
2. Frozen assets rule
According to this unofficial rule, when a player is in jail they cannot collect any rent from other players.
3. Jail defender rule
This unofficial Monopoly rule states that when a player goes to jail, they much pay each other player $100.
4. Free jail rule
According to this rule, when someone goes to jail, all of the other players must chip in to pay for it. So in a six-player game, each player would give the person $10 to cover their jail fee.
5. Jail ends all rule
This rule is a bit silly, but good if you like a short game. When a player land in jail, they are bankrupt and out of the game.
6. Jail auction rule
The jail auction rule states that when a player goes to jail, they must choose one of their properties to put up for auction.
7. Half rent rule
To discourage players from staying in jail, you could add a rule to collect only half of the rent that is due when you are in jail.
8. Cheaters go to jail
The Monopoly rules don’t state what happens if you are caught cheating, but some players have a rule that you must go to jail, stay there for three turns and then pay double to get out.
Suggested read: How to Cheat at Monopoly Without Getting Caught
The bottom line
The official Monopoly jail rules are complex and confusing, with some intricacies over what you can do and when. This is further confused by several unofficial Monopoly rules which people may confuse for the real rules.
At the end of the day, if everyone agrees to play by the same rules, you’re good to go. Unless agreed at the start, you should play according to the official Monopoly jail rules which are explained here.